IndyCar’s newly crowned Rookie of the Year Marcus Armstrong believes that he is ready to take on his first full IndyCar season in 2024, thanks to great preparation with the Chip Ganassi Racing Honda team, but said he was happy with his year’s work, winning the rookie title against the odds.
The 23-year-old beat Agustin Canapino, Sting Ray Robb and Benjamin Pedersen to clinch IndyCar’s ROTY honors despite missing the five oval races, in which the No. 11 Ganassi car was driven by two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato. Armstrong’s winning margin over Canapino of Juncos Hollinger Racing was 34 points.
Earlier this week, he was confirmed by Ganassi as a full-timer for 2024, alongside Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and rookie Linus Lundqvist.
“It has certainly been an eventful week,” he said after a tough and incident-filled drive to eighth at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, scene of the 2023 IndyCar finale. “Today has been a long day with all the cars and chaos. It’s been a really nice week. I’ve had my announcement I think on Thursday, was it?… Seems like a year ago at this point. It was nice to finally talk about what I have in store for the future with Chip Ganassi Racing.
“As well, to win the Rookie of the Year championship, I’m extremely pleased to finally lock that down. Obviously we didn’t do five races, so it was going to be a tough ask, for sure. But nevertheless, I think we finished every race. We were consistent. We had some good results. Sometimes I think we could have done a lot better. Yeah, we were consistent and fast enough to win it without the ovals…
“My favorite race this year was Detroit, which was just chaos, survival mode at one point, much like today. That was actually a really fun and enjoyable track for whatever reason. The layout and the bumps made it quite a nice circuit.
Armstrong rates Toronto as the toughest track he faced this year…although it also produced his best result. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images
“I would say the toughest race of the year was probably Toronto, which was actually I think my best result [seventh]. Weirdly enough, I didn’t really feel at home at that track. Learning it was quite difficult, probably the most difficult circuit this season. With the tarmac changes, bumps, it was like driving around a carpark at one point. That was difficult. As I said, we had our best result there, so maybe I’m at my best when I’m uncomfortable.”
Although there was not much test time granted to IndyCar teams and drivers this year, ahead of a busy off-season of testing the hybrid units this winter, Armstrong said he was impressed with the amount of time on track that teams are granted on a race weekend.
“I would say I get more track time than in other series that I’ve done,” he said. “Like in F2 last year I think we were really, really tight on push laps. That’s because the [Pirelli] tire just can’t do so many push laps.
“Here I actually think I’ve done quite a decent amount of laps in the race weekends. This track in particular, I feel like I haven’t done — past qualifying, I don’t think I did six proper push laps because there were so many red flags and everything. That’s another story. I feel like the track time has been adequate for having a good season.”
Armstrong will test on an oval for the first time this week, at Texas Motor Speedway.
“My preparation has gone as far as asking the guy in the PNC Bank suit over there [teammate Scott Dixon] a couple of questions,” he said. “To be fair, I did a couple laps on the simulator the other day.
“Yeah, I’m going there with my eyes wide open and just seeing what I find, making the best of it. I feel like it’s going to be a brand-new experience for me. So it’s exciting. It’s the start of a new journey, I guess.”
He later added: “I feel well prepared, really. I feel like it was a good learning class for an IndyCar season. There’s obviously nuances to IndyCar — this car is very intense, the steering kickback is a lot, for whatever reason. The racing is pretty ruthless. There’s still some learning to be done.”